something to declare
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Saturday 11 November 1995
The Bristol-based adventure travel agency Trips Worldwide (0117-987 2626) sends lots of people to Belize, but is now launching an appeal to help that country's children see something of their own country. The company aims to send 30 city children to a rainforest research centre for a weekend. The cost for each child is pounds 30. If you want to visit the country from Britain, however, the inclusive price will be around pounds 1,500 for a fortnight.
Comments about Groot Constantia Wine Estate, Cape Town, South Africa
You pour it, we'll drink it - Ena and John Murphy, Lancashire
The water's warmer in Durban - B Engelbrecht, Durban
Feels so good to see and taste part of our heritage - Deon van Dyk, Vredehoek
Sorry, I'm driving - N R Pollitt, Essex
'Japan is an impossibly expensive destination for British visitors'
False. Just as prices acquire hitherto unknown heights when you arrive in Japan, so does the concept of generosity. Sunday evening, no currency, no way from the provincial airport into town. The distance of four miles was only just walkable, but direction signs were (quite understandably) soley in Japanese. So I asked in the one still-open car rental office.
Namizato, the manager, did not hesitate. He grabbed some keys and invited me to join him in a top-of-the-range Nissan for the ride into town. I know his name is Namizato because at the end of the ride he handed me his card with a smile. "Call me if you need any help."
You can easily spend pounds 500 a night for a hotel room in Japan, but ryokan or minshuki (modest B&Bs) cut this to around pounds 20. Bed is a futon, breakfast simply rice with raw egg.
For lunch, I spotted something that was definitely a restaurant, or at least a "greasy chop-stick" sort of cafe. Lots of locals were slurping at soup (considered polite) and attacking bowls over-full of food: one stab at the stir-fried noodles, then another at the rice. A bowl of each filled me for the day and most of the evening, and cost pounds 2.50.
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